Soroptimist club establishing toy lending libraries
Originally posted 6:15 p.m. CDT March 9, 2015, Jill Callison, firstname.lastname@example.org
(Photo: Emily Spartz Weerheim / Argus Leader)
Soon, probably next month, when Adriana Alvarez and Cornell McBride leave Kilian Community College, they will carry not only books and computers but toys, too.
A program offered through Soroptimist International of Sioux Falls Club will give students who are parents of young children access to a toy lending library. That means McBride, when he travels out of state on a weekend to see his 5-year-old daughter and 9-month-old son can bring along a toy for the weekend, then bring something different back the next visit.
It also means Alvarez can find out what toys her 2-year-old daughter and 9-month-old son enjoy playing with. Through the toy lending library, she can offer something new to stimulate their imaginations and hone their developmental skills.
“It’s a good way to save money,” the Sioux Falls woman said. “Many kids play with the toys you buy them, then forget about them. This way they don’t get tired of playing with the same toys.”
The toy lending library at Kilian will be the second one established by the local Soroptimist club, which works to improve the lives of women and girls, said member Anelis Coscioni. The first one opened several weeks ago at the main branch of Siouxland Libraries. It provides toys for children from birth through age 5.
“By helping kids, you’re helping the moms,” Coscioni said. “You’re helping the kids to learn and grow.”
Soroptimist members chose the downtown library and Kilian sites as a way to offer toys in an under-served area of Sioux Falls. Both services are free and open to the public. To check out toys from the library, a valid library card is needed. At Kilian, when the program is opened, students must provide a picture ID and a phone number.
The toys are kept in plastic storage boxes with several toys in each one. They are sterilized each time they are returned. The 17-member Soroptimist Club conducted toy drives around Christmas to start the collection.
“Parents wish for their children to have toys, but if they don’t have food, if they don’t have a house, how can the parents even think about toys?” Coscioni said.
The library collection started with 23 boxes, and they already have begun circulating, said librarian Karen Weichmann. Providing space for the toy lending library fits into the mission of the regular library, she said. That includes a renewed emphasis on the importance of playing with children.
“The lending library just really fits into that well, too,” Wiechmann said. “Play is so important for early childhood development, and in important goal in the library is to nurture child development and bonding with parents.”
It also fits well at Kilian, said its president Mark Millage. The community college’s enrollment of several hundred include many single parents.
“This is an opportunity for them to involve their children as part of their experience at Kilian,” he said. “We offer more of a family approach to education.”
The Soroptimist Club is pursuing a grant that would allow it to purchase books, Coscioni said. Whenever possible, the book would relate to the toy inside the box, such as a book about number along with toys that help with counting.
Through her work on the project, Coscioni, herself the mother of a young daughter, has realized once again how important play is to a child and how it can strengthen the bond between parent and child.
“These connections get strength by doing things together,” Coscioni said. “When you’re playing with toys with your hands, they create a memory that stays.”